Featured Blog of October 2011: YouTern.com
This post was written by Mark Babbit.
For several years now, it has been a real challenge for people with experience and a proven track record to find work. For young professionals just entering the workforce… it has been almost impossible—more than 50% of those under 25 are unemployed, under-employed or have abandoned their job search.
So the founding team at YouTern set out to discover what resources were out there for those without experience, no matter how talented. Where could college students, recent graduates and “YoPros” go for uncluttered, ultra-relevant content that would help them conquer the beast they faced during and after college?
There wasn’t much.
So, YouTern – a resource for contemporary career information for college students and young talent – launched in September 2010.
From the very beginning, the founders set out to establish YouTern as a no BS zone where old-school “work your way up the corporate ladder” and “pay your dues” advice simply would not exist. YouTern would be a community where future workforce leaders could gain experiential education and career guidance outside the higher education system – and learn directly from current innovators, entrepreneurs and executives. The message was heard; within just a few months, YouTern was featured in Mashable, WSJ, Forbes, ReadWriteWeb, Sprouter and USAToday.
1. What makes YouTern different?
YouTern’s core mission started as a means to connect emerging talent to the workforce through high-impact internships. Through that process, we became known as advocates for high-quality, mentor-based experiences… real learning, away from text books and theory. Our mission – our passion – is to help college students gain the confidence and experience they need to be highly employable at graduation – even in this tough economy.
We think that shows in our blog – and we’re not afraid to take on tough issues, including old-school corporate recruiters and a higher education process that, in far too many cases, isn’t preparing young talent for the workforce. At the same time, we try to keep a sense of humor while we reintroduce a “human” element into the “human resources” process.
2. Does YouTern have a philosophy behind its posts?
Our overall goal is to present best practices relevant to young professionals in today’s economy. Just as important, though, is to present the advice and real world solutions in a motivating, get-off-your-butt style that inspires accountability without all the overly-positive “Today’s a new day!” fluff. In our blog, our social media and during Twitter chats we have instituted a “no whining – no victim statements” stance where we acknowledge life isn’t fair and promises of a job waiting after graduation were broken – and now, let’s focus on what we can control… and here’s how to do just that.
Everybody on the YouTern team, from our CEO to our interns, writes with this philosophy in mind. We’re also blessed to have attracted many of the best bloggers in the career and recruiting space that share this vision, and present forward-thinking views.
3. Overall, what do your readers take away from YouTern’s blog?
On the candidate side, we want to show young talent how to survive, even excel, during their job or internship search – and that once in the workforce they can make meaningful contributions right now, rather than waiting for some opportunity to climb that rusty corporate ladder left over from their parents’ generation. From a candidate’s first internship experience, we hope they tell 10 friends how they succeeded. Then those friends tell 10 more friends, and so on. Soon, this organic approach to career development through mentorship and accountability takes on a life of its own.
For employers and higher-ed, we want to create a shift in mindset that gets them to realize that this “isn’t their father’s Oldsmobile”, as the old advertising slogan said. Our universities are responsible for preparing young talent for the workforce; our employers are expected to build a recruiting and retention culture that encourages talent to perform at their best – with the employer greatly benefiting in the process.
Mostly, through our blog’s advocacy, education – and hopefully a little “balls to the wall” enthusiasm – we want our readers to develop an “entrepreneurial mindset” where they no longer listen to whatever they hear on the news or read in blogs about how bad the economy is, and feel they’ll never find a job. Instead, they become accountable for their careers… maybe one blog at a time.
Featured Blog of September 2011: Business2community.com
This post was written by Brian S. Rice, who, as you will see, co-founded this fine blog site!
In early 2010, Michael Brenner and I began discussing the idea of creating personal blogs and on May 1st, both B2C Marketing Insider and B2B Marketing Insider were “born” with the help of Dan Criel. As any blogger will tell you, finding your blog’s “voice” is key to not only the success of the blog but also your own personal enjoyment. Without this it will be challenging to attract an active audience and keep your enthusiasm for the effort it takes to maintain a blog.
Over the course of the past 16+ months, I have seen my blogging experience go through a tremendous amount of positive changes. First, very early on I began accepting guest posts from peers and industry experts. This small change created a wonderful group of people that contributed on a regular basis and quickly helped grow the blog’s site traffic. Second, after about four months the blog received its first makeover – going from a free blog layout theme to a paid theme that helped organize and promote the content better. While this change did not increase site traffic, engagement on the site increased as did the Twitter following tied to the blog. The third change was major and impacted both site traffic and engagement as the focus of the blog evolved. After six months, B2C Marketing Insider was no longer just my personal blog but a community of bloggers that were contributing directly every day and / or syndicating their blogs on the site.
While the blog originally focused on B2C marketing, contributions began coming in from individuals specializing in additional topics and in order to support the growth, on March 18, 2011, B2C Marketing Insider relaunched as Business 2 Community.
The goal is to create an open blogging community where professionals and businesses can connect with one another and the consumers of their products and services. Business 2 Community aims to provide a balanced view of the current business landscape based on industry news and trends, as well as real-life experiences. For those interested in learning more, please email me at email@example.com.
Lessons Learned From My Personal Blogging Experience
- Blogging requires commitment and hard work. Bloggers like Mack Collier, Brian Clark, and Chris Brogan may make it look effortless but I can assure you that there are no shortcuts.
- Consistency matters! A consistent blog posting schedule benefits you in two ways. First, your audience will become familiar with your posting habits and will know when to check back for new articles. Second, search engine crawlers love frequently updated websites.
- Personality will help drive interactions. People want to know the person behind the blog so don’t be afraid to let your personality come out in your writing – it is essential in finding your voice and growing your audience.
- Saying thank you never goes out of style. Thanking and highlighting others in your posts is an extremely rewarding experience – do it often!
- Keeping an open mind and letting your audience help drive the conversation will result in greater learnings for all. There has been a conscious decision to keep Business 2 Community open to everyone that would like to contribute, and as a result there have been numerous articles published that had a point of view that was drastically different then my own. I learned a lot from those articles. In some cases they helped change my perspective and in others they helped me build a stronger case for my opinion by understanding where the other side was coming from. My stance has been that as long as the writer is respectful, does not use profanity and avoids being self-promotional that I should let it be up to the community to decide if there was value in their work.
- Keywords / Titles are important but reader experience matters most. While SEO is important for driving traffic, you should focus on your readers’ site experience. A search engine optimized article that drives tons of traffic provides little value if readers abandon the site immediately because there is no “meat” to the article.
Thanks very much for having me here at The Blog Library and kudos to Margie for creating such a wonderful asset to the blogging community.
Featured Blog of August 2011: 12Most.com
You’ve probably seen 12most.com referenced here at the Blog Library, or maybe you’ve seen it on Twitter, or on Facebook, or maybe on Google Plus…heck, they’re everywhere! The community that 12most.com is creating along with their blog site is right in line with the mission of The Blog Library, and that’s why 12most.com is our featured blog for August! Since the 12most.com editors are all about the number 12, I thought it was only fair for them to write a 12 most post to explain more about their site to you. The editors, by the way, are Peg Fitzpatrick, Sean McGinnis, and Daniel Newman (that’s the order of their pictures). And now, here’s their post!
Margie Clayman asked the editorial team of 12 Most to put together a guest post for The Blog Library so we could introduce her readers to our site. Naturally, we jumped at the chance!
In case you’re not familiar with 12 Most, it’s a group blog that is filled only with lists posts with 12 list items. Some of the posts are serious and informative while some of them are fun and humorous.
We thought it would be fun to provide you some basic information about 12 Most, but to capture the information in the typical format of a 12 Most post! With that, let’s take a look at the 12 most fun facts about 12 Most!
1. The site launched on June 1st, 2011
In June 2011, we were all in the same room having drinks after a social media conference in downtown Chicago. Co-founders Daniel Newman and Sean McGinnis had been looking for a reason to start a project together, but had not been able to come up with anything they both agreed on. On this night, Daniel was jazzed about a couple ideas and one of them was an idea for a group blog called 50 Most! Sean loved the idea and they immediately crouched over their phones and began looking for available domain names. It was only after a few discussions about content creation that the reality around creating lists of 50 kicked in. 50 would be a lot of work, so after some discussion it was settled on 33.
The next morning, Sean registered 33most.com. During the continued discussion the plan changed yet one more time. Similar to the prior realization around 50 Most, it soon became apparent that 33 wouldn’t be much easier. Knowing it would be hard to bring high quality in that volume, cooler (more logical) heads prevailed and the number was revised downward – and 12Most.com was registered. Within just a few short weeks a functioning site was up and running and authors were being recruited. The initial plan was to post twice a day. We are now posting 3-5 times per day in three core categories: Business, Internet and Lifestyle.
2. It’s a community, not a blog
In fact it’s not even one community. 12 Most has rapidly turned into two communities.
The first and most obvious community is our readers. In the same way every other successful blog has a vibrant and growing community, so do we. We’re rapidly developing a core group of people who enjoy our 12 Most posts. They subscribe to our posts via our twitter account, our Facebook account, and they get our posts auto delivered to their feed reader or their e-mail.
But the thing that’s surprised us most is the way our contributors have coalesced into an entirely separate and distinct community of its own. They are communicating between and among themselves; they support each other by commenting on their individual blogs and they identify each other in some respects by the fact that they all contribute to 12 Most. This has been a most pleasant and unforeseen development, and one we’re very proud of.
3. 12 Most is growing. Fast.
As mentioned in #1 above, we’re still a very young site; about 60 days old by the time this post goes live. That’s not much runway behind us….
Nevertheless, the growth we have experienced has been nothing short of explosive.
We attribute our swift growth to a number of things. The 12 Most “gimmick” (that every post begins 12 Most….) seems to be a novel thing that people have latched onto. It’s creative enough to be unique but also loose enough to allow our writers the leeway to write in their own voices. The quality of our content is very high, overall. You’d be surprised how little editing you need to do when you recruit amazing writers who are passionate about their subject matter. It’s truly amazing. Our main driver of traffic has been our networks and our networks networks. The three of us are very social, and our friends are also very social. The four main social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+) account for probably 90%+ of our traffic.
This will likely change over time as we begin to build up some trust within the search engines, but for now, we’re totally comfortable with growing our audience this way. We’ve had some of our lists shared by the very biggest names on the web and we hope to continue writing informative and humorous posts that will prompt sharing between and among all our readership.
4. It’s informative and fun
As mentioned above, we strive to be one of two things – either informative or fun…and sometimes even both! Crazy, I know.
In all seriousness, we follow the lead of our contributors. Some of our authors are using 12 Most as a new distribution platform for their serious work, linking their 12 Most posts back to other works that they control or host. Others take a different view and use 12 Most as a place to let loose a little bit, indulging a sense of humor that they keep under wraps while they write for their businesses. Some authors do a little bit of each (again, sometimes at the same time).
We don’t take ourselves too seriously either way.
5. Already had one big makeover
As we rushed the site to launch in such a short time frame, we knew there would be changes along the way. But we didn’t expect it to be this soon. As we moved from an unstructured two posts a day to a more structured three posts a day in three different categories, we decided it made some sense to consider a modified layout. Sean worked behind the scenes to provide some easy ways for readers to dig deeper into our content and find what they were looking for. With over 100 posts in under 60 days it can get a bit unwieldy to find other great posts – something we’re desperately trying to encourage.
So, in early July we added some easy navigational menus at the top of the site to help readers navigate their way. We also added clean and easy sub-sections under our big picture “slider” on the home page that, again, leads readers right into our main category pages. We have further design changes being worked on too! We’re working with the people over at Bonsai Marketing (Danny Brown and Troy Claus are regular contributors to the site) on a new logo and some other cool features we think people are going to love.
6. Early bird gets the worm!
We are all early risers and get the day started with a bang.
7. The contributors are the secret spice in our awesome sauce
Our unique and varied contributors span industries, backgrounds and experience levels which adds great depth in topic and knowledge. Expanding from the original smaller focus to the larger format with broader topics has led to creating a fuller menu of choices, something for every taste.
8. 12 Most has published 116 posts from 48 contributors- so far!
Currently we publish in three main categories and are considering adding more categories to expand out footprint. As of today, our categories include Business, Internet and Lifestyle. Each category editor is responsible for posting one post per day in their category.
9. The real magic happens when we hit publish with our awesome readers sharing & commenting.
You can never assume that just be cause you plan a big party that someone will come. We are honored each day as people choose to read, share and discuss 12 Most on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Stumble Upon and Google +. The true life of the posts is created in the comments made by thoughtful and inspired readers.
10. Quality trumps quantity at 12 Most
We realize that everyone has a plethora of choices for content and strive to bring the best to 12 Most each and everyday. Variety and smart posts are part of what keep people coming back for more.
11. Our most popular post to date was 12 Most Ridiculous Job Titles in Social Media by Sam Fiorella.
12. This is just the beginning and we are all excited about the journey!
Just roll with it folks. Enough Said!
Featured Blogger of July 2011: Nancy Davis
There are a lot of people who say that all of the blog sites are starting to run together. One of the hardest challenges a blogger faces today is trying to find his or her own voice so that they can stand out from the crowd.
There are lots of ways to find your voice, but one of the best ways to accomplish that goal is to go into your blogging career with a mission (or objective) in mind. That’s just what Nancy Davis has done with her fantastic blog site, which has the goal of helping men and women who have been in abusive relationships regain their hope and strength.
I asked Nancy a few questions so that you can hear her own great perspective on her blog and the blogging experience in general.
1. What inspired you to blog in the first place?
I have been through a lot of things, and I wanted to show other people that life was not a dead end. I began the blog with the hope that people could find help, or at least comfort. I figured since I would be writing about my own experiences, that readers would hopefully be able to relate and find hope.
2. What are the challenges or unexpectedly easy facets of using a blog as you are for social good rather than for business?
The unexpectedly easy part is I never run out of content. The challenge is having it be very personal without being very “TMI” I have to be very careful of sharing myself, but not being an exhibitionist about it. That line is not always so clear. Business blogs do not have this issue.
3. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of blogging?
My favorite aspect of blogging is that feeling I get when I hit “publish” and when I get a comment that something I wrote helped someone. That is why I blog in the first place. My least favorite part is the technical aspect, because I am not great with computers. I need lots of help to do anything remotely technical.
4. What advice would you give to a blogger just setting out right now?
I would tell them to write a plan. They need to know who their target reader is, what do they want to achieve with the blog, and how often they will be posting. I even went so far as to write out what I think my “ideal readers” do for a living and made that as complete as possible. I would also say to get a few posts ready first before launching. I would also tell them to be nice to other bloggers, and reply to people when they come and comment. Lastly, please make sure you tweet your posts, but that you also tweet others as well. Don’t be selfish.
5. How would you describe the blogosphere as it stands right now, in July of 2011?
I think that we are seeing an enormous amount of content. It really is incredible. Blogs really are vitally important not just for social good, but also for business. There is also such a sense of community on so many blogs, it really is so great to see.